From farm shops to wedding venues, or forest bathing, to event spaces, the options for starting a new land-based tourism business are just about endless these days.

The opportunities for diversification have recently been boosted by a £442,000 Scottish Government programme to drive the economic growth of the agritourism sector. Meanwhile, a recent study by VisitScotland found the retail value of agritourism had increased by almost £50m in the past year alone.

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However, for many farmers, crofters or landowners in Scotland looking to diversify, the problem is where to start, what options they have and what skills or qualifications are needed. To address these issues, Kerry Hammond, of SAC Consulting – part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) – has created a land-based tourism toolkit outlining different types of businesses, recommended skills and relevant course providers.

The toolkit, which was funded by the University Innovation Fund, is divided into six sections which can be downloaded for free from SRUC’s website.

Kerry, the principal food and enterprise consultant at SAC Consulting, said: “I speak to hundreds of landowners in rural areas who are considering some form of land-based tourism diversification, but it’s not always clear to entrepreneurs and prospective businesses where to start, what options they have and what skills or qualifications they might need, or want.

“When a rural business chooses to diversify, the core business activities may be completely new to the owner – a traditional crofter may not know how to operate and run a wedding venue; an arable farmer may not have the skills needed to manage accommodation bookings or provide brilliant customer service; and an estate owner may not have the proper qualifications and certifications to produce and sell food.

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“We recognised there was a need for a simple and straightforward guide, laying out potential land-based tourism options, and the skills, providers and resources available to these rural entrepreneurs.

"Whether they need to get a food safety qualification, a short introduction to accounting, a steer in the right direction on social media marketing, or undertake a degree in rural business management, we have collated many options from all over Scotland so that the pathways are clearer.

“Scotland is an incredibly beautiful country, with many hidden gems, and the land-based rural tourism sector has so much capacity to offer world-class memorable experiences at every turn,” she pointed out.